If there’s one thing which I feel comfortable classifying myself as, it is an introvert. No matter how much I love hanging out with someone, being with people is draining; I need to be alone for at least an hour or two every day or I become irritable, anxious, and depressed. Furthermore, and this is not quite the same thing, I’m very private. Part of the reason I never update this blog is because it feels too public and exposed. Nothing freaks me out more than the idea of other people–any other people–going through my stuff: my drawings and writings and notebooks and computer files. I don’t think any of it is very scandalous or even interesting, but I hate the thought of anyone looking at it, anyway.
All this said, the longer I live the less I understand the scorn and shame associated with the desire for attention. You know the drill. “Oh, she just wants attention,” they say. Hipsters (or Lady Gaga, or whoever) just wear those weird clothes for attention. People who do anything different than the blandest norms, in fact, are just looking for attention. People who attempt suicide, people who self-harm, don’t take them seriously, it’s just a play for attention. Even people posting a tribute on a dead person’s Facebook wall supposedly suffer from “a pathological need for attention”.
For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that all this is true, and not just a giant pile of abjectly obvious projection on the part of the accuser. What’s wrong with it? Why are we supposed to go through life with the noble ambition to be ignored? It’s a strange thought that, unlike those horrible hipsters, fashionistas, and other “attention whores”, good honest folk like you and me choose outfits calculated to fade into the background lest we be noticed by anyone.
I think it’s a pretty universal human desire, actually, to want attention from our fellow human beings. (Especially, as the amazing Tess Lynch says, when we’re grieving.) Yes, it’s annoying when children interrupt your every quiet moment with attempts to pull your focus from whatever it is you’re doing, but it’s also an absolute necessity for them. As it is, though the methods become more subtle and polite, for everyone else. An ignored person is almost certainly a hurting person. Ask someone who’s been ignored and made to feel invisible. It’s a terrible, terrifying feeling.
Once I was in a band with two of my friends, and I really enjoyed playing live with them, but they both just naturally have more stage presence and charisma than I do. At some point there was a program or something, or maybe it was a tracklist for a compilation CD we had a song on, and it listed the two of them as the only band members. I don’t know, maybe it’s wrong of me, but it felt horrible. I felt erased, not just from the band, but from existence. This lead me, when we played subsequent shows, to dress up more and try to put on more of a show. Doing it because I wanted attention? Damn right. And I’d do it again. I am not ashamed to say that I do hope that people pay attention to me. When I sew something and post it on Craftster, you had better believe that I bask in the feedback that comes. Even accountants, I guarantee, feel that kind of thrill when someone says “you did a great job on my taxes!”, which probably doesn’t happen enough.
Working in the theater, I love the fact that I work behind the scenes. I’ve acted, and I find it rewarding, but I prefer to be backstage in the secret, semi-‘practical’ world back there. But I always want to see my name on the program. Does that make me a horrible person? Or does that just make me a human being?